If you search perennial gardening in Oklahoma this time of year, you might want to know what flowers in fall.
Well, here I am, your ever-helpful guide. I’ll be glad to share which plants flower in my fall garden.
Native and non-native asters flower in fall.
Asters make garden magic in fall, but they do take some care. You have to cut them back in spring to keep them tidy, and some, like the aromatic asters, seem bent on garden takeover. These are not the asters you see flowering in big box stores at the end of September. I found most of my asters online and at Bustani Plant Farm over the years. The natives have cross pollinated to the point where I have a lot of volunteers. I’m mostly ok with that.
However. if you’ve read this blog for a while–like the past 16 years–you might know I have a thing for asters in spite of their wild ways. By the way, I just celebrated my blogaversary. Who would have thought I’d still be writing?
Asters are definitely one of my fall favorites. I love asters, and they love my garden so I have a lot of them. They paint my garden a lovely powdery blue and purple in Autumn which is not a bad thing. [Click on the photos in the galleries to enlarge them.]
Carol Michel and I discussed native asters on the Gardenangelists podcast recently. If you want to read more, sign up for our weekly podcast newsletter. Here’s the latest missive. Carol writes it one week, and I write it the next.
The one aster in the garden that makes me want to take a drive to Crazy Town is Drummond’s aster, Symphyotrichum drummondii. If you put in a garden where you never water, it might be fine, but here where there is drip irrigation, it has spread almost everywhere. Now, it is flowering, and it is lovely, but soon, I’ll be digging out more of it just to keep it in check. It has rosettes of leaves set down upon tough roots that spread. It also spreads by seed.
According to the Arkansas Native Plant Society, “The specific epithet and common name recognizes Thomas Drummond, a Scottish botanist, who, in the early 1830s, collected specimens in Texas. Other common names include blue wood aster and hairy heart-leaf aster.”
In my garden, it is known as “the most hated aster” except for this time of year. Then, it’s just so danged pretty, I’m glad I can’t eradicate it.
Some salvias start to flower in fall while others continue on.
I’m a big fan of salvias of all types, but I love S. leucantha this time of year. Mexican bush sage is usually hardy in my garden even in the most windblown spot, but it does sometimes die, so I take cuttings each fall. I now have three large stands of it in the two gardens facing the street so I believe I have plenty. I think one of the most important factors in getting it to overwinter is to keep it as dry as possible. It a true sage with silvery, drought tolerant leaves.
My other favorite perennial salvia is the S. farinacea clan. I like most of them including good old ‘Victoria Blue.’ I usually chop back these salvias in midsummer so I get another flush of flowers. I could have chopped them again last month, but I didn’t. That’s why some of them look straggly. Their blue-green leaves which are another good reason to grow them.
This year, I grew ‘Sirius Blue’ from seed, and it was a dwarf variety. It was also extremely slow growing. Like molasses really. It finally bloomed in July. That is too late for me. I won’t grow it again.
I‘m also fond of the interspecific hybrids, ‘Mystic Blue Spires‘ and ‘Indigo Spires,’ but sadly, they don’t overwinter for me. They are only hardy to Zone 8. There’s a new hybrid that can be grown from seed called ‘Big Blue,’ but I haven’t tried it yet. It would make things less expensive since transplants are still pricey in local nurseries, and they grow like annuals.
Ornamental grasses flower in the fall.
I grow many different types of ornamental grasses. Most begin to flower in the fall, from Muhlenbergia capillaris, pink muhly grass, to Miscanthis sinensis, Chinese maiden grass, to Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ blue grama grass, and finally, all of the Panicum virgatum, native switchgrasses. These beautiful plants sway in the wind and are good garden companions for three seasons of the year.
We always have wind in Oklahoma, and grasses make our gardens move with sweet music.
Mums flower in fall.
Okay, this might seem obvious, but I‘m talking about true garden mums, not the ball-shaped plants you find in the box stores in late September and early October. There’s nothing wrong with those. I love them, but I also love daisy-type mums. Presently, I grow ‘Sheffield’ aka ‘Sheffield Pink,’ ‘Clara Curtis,’ a white one I can’t remember, and ‘Ryan’s Pink.’ Sometime ago, I lost ‘Will’s Wonderful’ so I’ll be looking to replace it.
There’s much more that flowers in the fall garden, but this post has taken me two weeks to write and publish. It is now too long, and I hope you’ll actually read it, but I wouldn’t blame you if you clicked away.
Still, you might save it for later if you’d like to grow plants that extend your gardening season and flower in fall.